Trafficking of children can be defined as: “Sale and purchase of children for gain, within the country (intra-country) and across border (inter-country), by deceit, fraud or force, resulting in exploitation of the person trafficked”.
Childhood is the most valuable period in every human being’s lifetime, when one explores, learns, adapts to various aspects of life for one’s overall growth and development.
Also it is the most impressionable part of a child’s journey before becoming an adult and instead of providing education to children, if children are forced to work in an age which is not permitted by law, it robs from them their childhood and creates a permanent dent in their future.
This deviation in their life leads to long term ill effects such as depression, malnutrition physical disability etc.
Trafficking in human beings especially in women and children has become a matter of serious concern and trafficking is a worldwide phenomenon affecting large number of girl and boys.
Families are often influenced by the promises of better employment or for better life far from their homes, later, they are kidnapped and sold and this way children’s rights are violated to grow up in their family environment and also take away their childhood from them.
Now the question which arises is “what are Children trafficked for?”
The Children are trafficked for:
- Bonded Labour
- Domestic Work
- Agriculture labour
- Construction work
- Illegal activities:
- Organ Trade
- Drug peddling and smuggling
- Sexual Exploitation:
- Forced Prostitution
- Socially and religiously sanctified forms of prostitution
- Sex Tourism
- Entertainment and Sports:
- Circus, dance troupes, beers bars etc.
- Camel Joke
- For and through marriage
- For and through adoption
- As Child soldiers or combatants in armed conflicts
The Factors which leads to Trafficking are the Supply Factors such as poverty, child marriage, Natural disaster (floods, cyclones etc.), Domestic Violence, unemployment, lack of employment opportunities etc. and another is Demand Factors such as Migration, Hope for jobs/marriages, Sex Tourism, Internet Pornography etc.
Magnitude of Problem
In India, Child Trafficking is a matter of serious concern and large numbers of children are trafficked not only for sex ‘trade’ but also for non-sex based exploitation such as Domestic labour, industrial labour, agricultural labour, begging etc.
According to NCRB, 2005 Child Trafficking is on rise and nearly 60% are the victims of child trafficking who are below the age of 18 years. Also, as per NHC Report on Trafficking in Women and Children, in India the population of women and children in sex work in India is stated to be between 70,000 and 1 million of these, 30% are 20 years of age. Nearly 15% began sex work they were below 15 and 25% entered between 15 and 18 years.
A rough estimate prepared by an NGO called End Children’s prostitution in Asian Tourism reveals that there are 2 million prostitutes in India and 20% among them are minors
We cannot say that poverty is the only cause; there are some factors also such as Supply factors and Demand factors. Supply factors can be categorized as Feticide, Child Marriage, Domestic Violence, unemployment; Lack of employment opportunities etc. and Demand Factors can be categorized as Migration, Hope for jobs, Sex tourism, Internet pornography etc. Both these factors lead to Trafficking.
In eastern India, Kolkata has become a hub for the trafficking of the girls, who arrives from the Nepal, Bangladesh and Burma. Deepa, a 15 year Old Girl from a village outside the Kolkata, told how year she was drugged by a woman, who kidnapped her and sold her to a madam in Mumbai.
There, she was told that she has to become a prostitute and she denied and as a result of that she was beaten a lot and they also used hot iron rod to beat her and then eventually she had to agree for it.
Deepa could not escape and her day used to begin at six in the morning and she had 12-13 customers on daily basis and her day was used to end at 3 a.m.
Fortunately her luck changed and one day she was rescued but there was the threat of AIDS infection. According to one estimate, 70% of prostitutes in Mumbai are infected with the virus.
When she was rescued she went back to her home and told her mother everything and her mother got her tested and fortunately she was tested negative.
But there are many children who are still in the cage of the traffickers and are getting infected with virus such as AIDS, HIV etc.
Are the poor the only target?
It’s not only children who are from weaker sections of the society who are exposed to the threat of trafficking but also children from well-to-do households, who are able to access to internet are also bagged by the traffickers.
The perpetrators connect with the children using internet and lure them out and these children are being lured by the traffickers who connect with them and chat online.
The parents are unaware about all this and the safety protocols that are need to be followed. There is still a huge gap when it comes to parents and teachers interacting with children and it is very important to bridge the gap. Before providing smart phones to children it is also necessary to let them know about its advantage and disadvantage.
As per Reena Banerjee, who runs Navsrishti, an NGO in Delhi said that lockdown has put a lot of pressure on the mental health of children and this could be the reason for rise in the cases of voluntary running away from home with even strangers.
Also as per Reena, Atul Kumar, the Project Coordinator at Navsrishti, the children feel suffocated and they felt they are being monitored more than ever which pushed them to run away and another reason could be lack of communication with the parents as they are being told here to go where not to go, to whom they should speak but there is no proper communication, they have no one whom they can talk to or with whom they can share their feelings. This instigates them to find a way out and when an opportunity presents they grab hold of it.
Legal framework to address trafficking in India
- Article 23 of the Constitution: Guarantees Right against Exploitation, prohibits traffic in human beings and forced labour and makes their practice punishable under law.
- Article 24 of the Constitution: Prohibits employment of children below 14 years of age in factories, mines or other hazardous employment.
- Indian Penal Code,1860: There are 25 provision relevant to trafficking; significant among them are:
- Section 366A- Procuration of a minor girl (below 18 years of age) from one part of the country to the another is punishable
- Section 366B: importation of a girl below 21 years of age is punishable
- Section 374: provides punishment for compelling any person to labour against his will
- Child labour (Prohibition and regulation) Act, 1986: Prohibits employment of children in certain specified occupations and also lays down conditions of work children.
- Information Technology Act, 2000: Penalizes Publication or transmission in electronic form of any material which is lascivious or appeals to prurient interest or if its effect is such as to tend to deprive and corrupt persons to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied therein. The law has relevance to addressing the problem of pornography
Another act has also been introduced such as such as Juvenile Justice (Care and protection of children) Act, 2000, and Goa Children’s Act, 2003.
The international laws also lay down standards that have been agreed upon by all the countries. The following are the most important International Conventions regarding trafficking of children such as:
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child,1989
- The Convention of the elimination of all the forms of discrimination against women (CEDAW) 1979,
- The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially women and children.
- SAARC Convention on Regional Arrangements for the Promotion of Child Welfare, 2002
After seeing all the situations, it can be interpreted that Child trafficking is still prevailing in India and main cause of it is due to lack of awareness about the such crime happening around them and illiteracy which also turns to the poverty because of lack of education, knowledge and lack of employment opportunities can also be the cause which creates such opportunity for such trafficker and traffickers provide an gratuitous promise to provide more wages, better married life and transport them to the big cities therefore as a parents they must have knowledge and ability to identify such traffickers.
The awareness can be created among them as there are many organizations that conduct campaign and spread such awareness about such traffickers. The government must launch media campaign the promote Children’s right and elimination of any kind of child labour.
India is viewed as hub of trafficking and also it is a humanities issue which is usually concerned in backward countries and involves among poor people who are influenced by the fake promises and also poor people usually have financial problem and this makes themselves willing themselves place anywhere without investigation the background of that place or job for which they are promised and this requires an approach to address the dimension of the problem and best solution can also be the involvement of government in formulating and drafting laws which will protect the people from these traffickers.
Moreover the involvement of NGO can also play a big role in eradicating the problem of Child Trafficking in helping the solving the problem of Child Trafficking as NGO’s can carried out the decision that Government cannot carry out.
In the fight against trafficking government organization, non-governmental organizations, civil society, pressure groups, international bodies, all have to play an important role.
Law cannot be the only instrument to take care of all the problems, as a citizen of our country we also need to put input in solving the problem of Child Trafficking.